New York Hellenic Philharmonic Society led by Spiro Svolakos
On Sunday, April 3, 2016, the Maryland Greek Independence Day Parade was held in the area of Baltimore known as “Greektown.” I had the opportunity to play trumpet in the NY Hellenic Philharmonic Society. The group is led by Spiro Svolakos (the gentleman above with the baton) who explains the event below:
As you see, in USA, South America, Canada and Australia, the meaning of whatever we call “parade” is far from the standards and stereotypes from those in Greece. Any one can march in a group representing a part of Greece, school, Greek American community or a Greek Orthodox rectory as in a promenade, to express the pride of being Greek, or simply can stay in the sidewalk to enjoy and applaud the marching groups. There is no specific discipline or military walking pace and the bands (mostly High School or Scottish/Irish Pipe bands) usually play non military tunes with an exception of our Hellenic Philharmonic Society that play marches from glorious pages of the Greek History.
Above quote from Spiro Svolakos (https://www.facebook.com/captainspirosvolakos).
Here’s some photos from the parade. Our band was right across from the reviewing stand located in front of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church. As you can see, the band and reviewing stand were under tents.
The weather was cold and windy. However, the weather could not dampen the enthusiasm that surrounded this parade! The event began with a traditional Greek welcome by the clergy and a prayer. Both the US and Greek Anthems were sung and short speeches delivered by the parade Grand Marshals. The parade and our performance was ready to begin with the Evzones.
The Evzones were historically the elite light infantry and mountain units of the Greek Army. Today the Evzones are members of the Greek Presidential Guard, a ceremonial unit that guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Presidential Mansion in Athens.
Here they are guarding the symbolic Tomb staged at the end of the parade. These guards are famous for their unique traditional uniform, which evolved from clothes worn by Greeks that fought the Turkish occupation in 1821. The Evzones lead all military parades.
The parade was led by the Evzones followed by over 50 groups including Greek schools, dance troupes, Heroines of the Greek Revolution 1821, Hellenic Warriors, Myrmidons, Pipe & Drum Bands and finally the Baltimore Raven & the Orioles Bird.
Photos above are credited to the Maryland Greek Independence Day Parade Facebook page.
I would like to show you a couple of pieces of the music we played. The band arrived 2 hours before parade time to have a run through of the music. The group consisted of 3 trumpets, a drummer, 4 trombones, 3 clarinets, an euphonium and a tuba. The wind was wreaking havoc with our music & stands. Large clips saved the music and the stands were weighted down by sand bags. At first glance, you might see that I am playing trumpet… nothing unusual there…but look closer and you will see the music titles are in Greek!
Photo credit Mark Davis
The music was Greek hymns and marches. Our conductor sang the music to us ahead of time so that we could understand the style of the music. It was a pleasure to play in this ensemble & I hope to play again next year for the Maryland Greek Independence Day Parade. The parade has a facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/greekparade/
There is also a website, if you would like to check it out: http://www.greekparade.com